Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 8: Tiger Mountain Half Marathon

Note: Week 8 was May 14-20.

This week was a bit unusual because I ran a trail half marathon on Saturday rather than my typical goal pace run on Saturday and long run on Sunday. My training plan actually has a half marathon race scheduled for week 9, so I just flipped parts of weeks 8 and 9 to account for it.

Other than that, it was a typical week. Two solid months of marathon training complete! Now only 10 weeks to go.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:16 average pace.

It was 87 degrees (in mid May?!), so I delayed my run by doing some much-needed yard work. I got carried away and worked for an hour and a half! It was 8:30 and starting to get dark as I set out for a still-hot and still-sweaty run. And thanks to all that hedge trimming, raking, weeding and more, my arms were sore for two days.

TUESDAY: 8-mile easy run at 9:07 average pace.

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It was great catching up with Hallie about her recent vacations to Hawaii and Las Vegas, plus planning for the upcoming Taylor Swift concert and talking through our marathon training plans (both based on Hal Higdon Advanced 1, with slight variations to fit our schedules). Now that her 50K is over, she’s fully focused on the marathon and I plan to log a lot more miles with her!

WEDNESDAY: 4-mile easy run at 9:08 average pace.

I ran with Stephanie, plus did BBG week 2 arms + abs, stretched and foam rolled.

THURSDAY: 6 x 800 speed intervals (6.5 miles total) at 8:29 average pace.

Targeting 3:30, I ran the 800s in 3:36, 3:30, 3:34, 3:38, 3:34 and 3:30. I worked HARD for that last 3:30! I also worked hard to push negative thoughts out of my head through the entire workout. I started each interval with a confident, “I can do this!” mindset, but inevitably, I’d hear the naysaying creep in: “No way I can keep up this pace. My legs can’t do it. I’m just not fast enough.” Every time those thoughts crept in—and every time I checked my watch to see a less-than-ideal moving pace—I felt my energy and pace flag. Every time I successfully squashed those thoughts and resisted the urge to look at my watch, I ran a faster interval. The mental is just as important as the physical, whether you’re running a half mile or a marathon. Tell yourself, “I can do this!” and watch it happen.

FRIDAY: Rest.

SATURDAY: Tiger Mountain Half Marathon — 13.56-mile trail race in 2:21:57.

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I haven’t been doing much trail running lately, so I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this race. And since it’s not the main race I’m training for, I only had two goals: (a) don’t twist my ankle, and (b) finish under 2:30. I also wanted to keep up with Hallie for as long as possible, but knew she’d drop me at some point.

The first four miles of the race went up, up and up, which is my strength, so I was able to keep up with Hallie even though my legs were feeling fried pretty early on. Once we hit a considerable downhill, it was game on for Hallie (her strength), and I was on my own. I walked for the first time around mile 4.5 (fried legs) and tried to keep it to a minimum, but walked every so often throughout the rest of the race. It’s too easy to walk when you’re alone in the woods and there are no other runners or spectators to see you!

Most of the trails we ran on—which are usually packed with mountain bikers—were super smooth and runnable. For the first time, I let myself relax and fly on the downhills where I didn’t have to worry too much about tripping over rocks and roots. It felt awesome! But later in the race, things got rockier (ba-dum-ching!). I nearly stumbled twice and became more cautious as a result. I got passed by several people, but just accepted it and kept running as steadily as I could.

Overall, I had a lot of fun and was happy with the experience! My average pace is up for debate: the course map said it was 13.56 miles, which works out to 10:28 average pace. That seems inaccurately fast to me, given my bouts of walking. My Garmin measured 12.3 miles, which works out to 11:31 average pace (more reasonable), but Hallie says GPS watches always measure this race as shorter than it really is due to the mountains. I don’t know what to believe; all I know is that I enjoyed the race and am proud of my finish. Out of 91 runners, I finished 41st. Out of 41 females, I finished 13th. Not bad at all!

Race gear:

Top: Lululemon (old)
Shorts: Brooks Chaser 3”
Bra: Senita Sarah (it has a phone pocket!)
Shoes: Hoka One One Challenger ATR
Hydration vest: Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Hydration: nuun
Fuel: Vanilla bean Gu

SUNDAY: 3.2-mile easy run at 9:46 average pace.

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My legs were tired (but not totally wrecked) the next day, so I took it eaaaasy for my recovery run. Aaron and Evie joined me on his bike, and we stopped in the middle at a playground for some fun. A perfect low-key Sunday with the fam!

Total weekly mileage: 38.2

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 7: Run Redemption

I’m so behind on posting, but trying to catch up! Week 7 was May 7-13; it’s now June and I just finished week 10. But humor me as we go back in time…

This week was a great one, as I was very happy with my three key workouts: Thursday tempo, Saturday marathon goal pace and Sunday long run. After a discouraging/too-hot tempo run two weeks ago and a disappointing goal pace run on too-tired legs last week, I needed those wins.

I continue to be amazed at how well my legs are handling six days per week of running (when I actually take my rest day on Friday, as I did this week!). That’s most certainly due to running easy most of the time, which I’ve never done in the past. So far, I’ve followed this training plan far more diligently that I ever have before, and I’ll be so much better equipped to run 26.2 miles as a result. I have three 20-milers to run, people! Three! And I’m not intimidated by that; just excited.

My only miss this week was accidentally running 3 miles on Wednesday instead of 4, but that’s no big deal—and I accidentally ran 8 miles instead of 7 last Saturday, so it sort of evens out.

I cracked the 40s for the first time this training cycle in terms of weekly mileage. I’ll peak at about 58 miles three weeks before the race. I’m not sure I’ve ever run that many miles in a week before, but here’s hoping my body will be ready when the time comes!

Scratch that—hoping won’t help at all. The only thing that’ll prepare me for the hard work is running, running and running some more.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:37 average pace.

I needed to pick up a prescription for Evie and our pharmacy is exactly 1.5 miles away, so I ran an errand! My legs were t-i-r-e-d, so it was slow going, but that’s standard for these post-long-run shakeouts.

TUESDAY: 8-mile easy run at 9:19 average pace.

Aaron went on a bike ride right when we got home, then I was going to run right when he got back. Wouldn’t you know that the moment he stepped into the house, the skies opened up into a torrential thunderstorm! The streets of our neighborhood were flooded in just a few minutes. I resigned myself to an hour-plus slog on the treadmill, but after I put Evie to bed, it seemed as though the rain had stopped. I headed out onto my usual trail and miraculously didn’t feel a single drop of rain. Plus, there was no one else on the trail but a family of deer. Random thunderstorms have their perks!

WEDNESDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:01 average pace.

I listened to Ali’s interview with Liz Plosser, editor-in-chief of Women’s Health magazine, and then wound up weeding my whole front yard so I could keep listening! You know something’s good when it gets me to do yard work. ☺ I’ve been slacking on my strength training these past few weeks, but I kind of count weeding as a workout… and it really needed to be done. Also, I was out of clean running shorts and reached back into my pre-pregnancy archives to see if my old Lululemon Speed shorts fit—and they did!!

THURSDAY: 5-mile tempo run at 8:14 average pace.

I finally redeemed myself for that too-hot tempo run two weeks ago! The weather was decently cool and I ran my comfortably hard miles in 7:51, 7:44 and 7:41—right where I wanted them and negative splits to boot. I finished just in time to enjoy a killer sunset, and all was right with the world.

FRIDAY: Rest.

SATURDAY: 8-mile goal pace run at 8:07 average pace.

I learned my lesson after going out too fast last week and used the first mile of this run as a warmup (8:26). From there, all the miles were under 8:10, but not as close to my goal pace (8:00-8:05ish) as I hoped. I’m still happy with it! I know I won’t hit my paces every single week, and it’s the consistency that counts. There was also a slight rise in elevation for the last half of this run, whereas I’ll be going downhill 100% of the time during the marathon, so hopefully the faster pace will come without much more effort.

SUNDAY: 16-mile long run at 9:19 average pace.

Happy Mother’s Day! Maybe next year I’ll sleep in and have breakfast in bed, but this year I woke up at 5 a.m. to start my run at 6. It was going to be a hot day, and I had plans later with my mom, so I had to get it done early!

Stephanie (who is also a mom!) joined me for the first five miles, and they flew by. I felt great through the halfway point, but as I turned around to head back after 8 miles, my stomach indicated I had “unfinished business” to take care of. Luckily I was near a popular trailhead with a bathroom, but even afterward my stomach never made it back to 100%. I’ve been staying away from added sugar, so I wonder if my splurging on a piece of cake at a birthday party on Saturday had anything to do with it?

Anyway, I survived the run; it just wasn’t very pleasant. It reminded me to be grateful for how good my stomach has felt throughout training, which I believe I owe to healthy eating. I need to keep it up, especially in the weeks immediately before race day!

Total weekly mileage: 43

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 6: Official BQ Attempt

Suddenly I think I might actually be able to BQ. Not because this week felt particularly strong and gave me lots of confidence (kind of the opposite, in fact; you’ll see), but because I believe in myself now. I don’t know why; I just do. Do I need a reason?

I changed part of my Instagram bio from, “Training for PRs in 2018!” to, “Training for a BQ in July 2018!” So it’s out there. And it’s out here. Let’s do this thing.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:16 average pace.

My legs felt super stiff as I started this run, thanks to Sunday’s long run with zero recovery/toddler birthday bonanza. But they loosened up the more I ran, and thus the recovery run did its job! Before I started this plan, I was worried about running six days per week without taking a rest day after long runs, but I haven’t found it to be an issue so far.

TUESDAY: 7-mile easy run at 8:59 average pace.

On this sunset run, I listened to episode 31 of the Ali on the Run Show featuring Dan Nevins, an Army veteran who lost both of his legs in Iraq and went on to become an inspiring yoga teacher and public speaker. I choked back tears several times listening to Dan eloquently describe his time in combat and his experiences dealing with both the physical and emotional wounds of war. It reminded me to be grateful for every step and every breath—not just during this run, but during every moment of every day.

WEDNESDAY: 3.1-mile easy run at 9:10 average pace.

I ran with Stephanie, which always makes the miles fly by faster! I also stretched, foam rolled, lifted weights and did some crunches while listening to the Ali on the Run Show episode featuring Ali’s parents, which was adorable!

THURSDAY: Rest.

I’m not sure why I wasn’t feeling it this day, but my legs just needed a break! Moving my rest day from Friday to Thursday made my Saturday run suck, though, so I’ll try not to do it again.

FRIDAY: 5 x 800 m speed workout (6 miles total) at 8:24 average pace.

My legs felt nice and fresh for this workout, but I ran my first interval too fast (3:24, targeting 3:30) and had trouble hanging onto my goal pace for the rest of them (3:33, 3:31, 3:38, 3:35). It’s so hard to know how fast I’m going in the moment, so I just run as fast as I possibly can. But next time, I’ll start more conservatively so I still have some energy for the other intervals!

SATURDAY: 8-mile (attempted) marathon goal pace run at 8:16 average pace.

This run suuuuucked. I was more than happy to stop for a minute when I ran into Aaron and Evie on a bike ride at mile 7! 

I took Evie to her first soccer lesson in the morning (so cute!), then did this run less than 24 hours after my speed workout. I knew going into it that there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to hang onto marathon goal pace (around 8:00), but I gave it my best shot. I was good through the first four miles, and then the wheels totally fell off and I just tried to stay under 8:30 average pace. It was good practice trying to run fast on super tired legs, which is a thing that will definitely happen during the marathon.

I realized after the fact that I was looking at the wrong week on my plan and only needed to do 7 miles at marathon goal pace. D’oh! Oh well. I actually have 8 miles at MGP next Saturday, so that will be a chance to redeem myself for this run.

SUNDAY: 10-mile long trail run at 11:41 average pace.

We had our house deep-cleaned (yesssss) and needed to be away for eight hours, so we took Evie to the zoo with some friends in the morning, then headed over to my in-laws’ house for lunch and naptime (for Evie, not me, unfortunately). While she napped, Aaron went on a bike ride and I ran a nearby trail I’d never explored before: the Coal Creek Trail. It’s super runnable (packed dirt, not too hilly) with beautiful scenery (lush greenery, pretty creek, waterfalls, etc.). There were lots of families hiking, so it felt very safe as well. Sometimes I can go several miles on trails without seeing anyone and get very freaked out about wild animals. This was suburban trail serenity at its finest. My legs were still tired from back-to-back hard workouts, but it was a nice run regardless.

Total weekly mileage: 37.1

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 5: Run, Recover, Run

This week I learned that when I take the time to recover properly after running, my legs feel freakin’ awesome. Duh! But I don’t always take the time to stretch, foam roll, use our NormaTec recovery boots, etc., so actually doing that reminded me what a difference it makes. It makes me feel so much fresher for my next run, which is essential now that I’m running six days a week.

My birthday is later this month, but Aaron got me an early gift: a Roll Recovery R8. I’d seen this scary-looking contraption on other runners’ Instagrams and blogs, but never thought I’d need it since foam rolling has worked just fine for me.

But this… this is really next-level, and a game-changer. It takes so much less effort than foam rolling, yet it feels like it rolls out your muscles so much better. I still prefer to foam roll certain parts of my legs (like my calves), but for my IT bands, hamstrings and quads, the Roll Recovery feels like an intense deep-tissue massage. Aaron loves it, too, which is great because he hates foam rolling and never does it. Even though it was technically a birthday present for me, he’s probably used it more than I have so far. ☺

MONDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:11 average pace; BBG arms and abs.

Anytime I can summon the energy to run and do BBG is a big win! It’s really only an hour of exercise combined, but feels like so much more because I have to mentally switch gears in between.

TUESDAY: 7-mile easy run at 9:09 average pace.

I started on the later side, which was fine because it was pretty warm that day and I enjoyed the cooler evening weather. The bugs were out in full force, though, and I wound up with several in my mouth, up my nose and squished up in my bra! Ahhh, I had forgotten about this charming quirk of dusk running in the spring and summer.

WEDNESDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:10 average pace.

Thank you for your recommendations for running sunglasses! I ordered a pair of Goodr sunglasses and am very happy with them so far. This week was on the sunny side for Seattle, so they arrived just in time. No slipping, no bouncing and only $25—I’m sold. I bought mine on Amazon to get fast and free Prime shipping, but there are a lot more color options available on the Goodr website.

THURSDAY: 35-minute tempo run (4 miles total) at 8:36 average pace.

Hello, random heat! When I started this run, it was 83 degrees, and my first mile felt like such a slog. I normally warm up around 9:15 pace, but my first mile was 9:39—and it felt like my typical effort. Needless to say, I didn’t hit the tempo pace I aimed for (7:40-7:50 ish), but I definitely put in a tempo effort (comfortably hard). It’s crazy how much the temperature can affect your body! I did a 10-minute warmup, 20 minutes at tempo pace (8:07, in this case) and a 5-minute cooldown. I also began seriously questioning my decision to run a late-July marathon. The race starts at 6:30 a.m., so hopefully I’ll be done before it gets really hot!

FRIDAY: Rest.

SATURDAY: 7-mile easy run at 9:05 average pace.

I ran with my friend Stephanie for the first time since her marathon last weekend (her very first!) and caught up on the whole story of her race. There were fewer than 100 runners, and she won second place in her age group! Not bad for a first marathon! It was also blessedly cool and rainy during our run, which felt like heaven compared to my sauna struggle time on Thursday.

SUNDAY: 14-mile long run at 9:13 average pace.

This was April 29, Evie’s second birthday! I can’t believe it’s been two years since we met our sweet girl for the first time. We hosted her Sesame Street-themed birthday party with family and friends in the afternoon, so I had to do my run in the morning and then jump right into the shower, get ready and finish party prep—no time for stretching or any other recovery! It was a little rough, but I kept telling myself it wasn’t as bad as being in labor two years ago. ☺ Plus, Aaron did a TON of the work—he made an incredible Elmo cake from scratch, prepped most of the appetizers, cleaned and so much more. He is the best and I’d marry him again if I could!

I ran on the same gravel trail as the marathon course, and quickly realized the Mt. Si Ultra (50K and 50 mile) was happening at the same time! As I was running down the trail from Rattlesnake Lake, a ton of runners were coming up; it was fun to smile and wave at all of them, knowing that I only had to run 14 and not 31 or 50. 😉 Those are some tough runners! I have no desire to do an ultra, but I’ll cheer them on all day long. I also made a deer friend, which is always nice.

Total weekly mileage: 38.1

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 4: The Reward is the Process

Eek, I’m a week behind on blogging! I just completed week 5 of training and will try to write about that soon! Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

Watching this year’s rainy, freezing-cold Boston Marathon, I thought about what a bummer that weather was for everyone, and especially for the runners who’d put in so much effort to qualify. You work your butt off for that coveted experience; what if it turns out to be miserable?

It’s a reminder that, no matter how hard you work, things can go wrong on race day. Your race may turn out fine anyway (I follow several Boston runners who had great races!), or it may be a big, frustrating disappointment.

Two of my five marathons have been miserable. Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle was very warm, and I both trained and went out too fast. Despite running a PR, I felt like a failure.

The Eugene Marathon was downright hot, and my body felt beat up throughout the race because it was all on pavement and I had done nearly all my long runs on a soft gravel trail. The fact that I even finished that race was a win, but I spent a long time beating myself up about that crappy experience and my bad attitude during it.

It’s a terrible feeling to put in months of hard work and then miss out on the reward of a satisfying race at the end. But my co-worker has a card displayed on her desk that presents a different perspective; it says, “The reward is the process.” It reminds me to not just look forward to some future reward, but to recognize the rewarding moments I experience in my training each day.

Feeling the satisfaction that comes from putting in the miles; pushing through uncertainty and discomfort; realizing I’m getting faster and more confident—those things are the rewards I’m appreciating now. And ultimately, if all the right factors and circumstances come together on race day and I cross the finish line with a Boston-qualifying time? All the better. But I won’t let that define whether or not this training cycle was rewarding.

During and after pregnancy, I worried that I’d never again be the runner I once was. And I’m not; I’m better. Maybe it’s because motherhood comes with time constraints that determine when I can and can’t run. It’s not 100% up to me anymore. Every time I get to run, I appreciate it so much more and want to make the most of it. As much as I wanted to improve my running before I got pregnant, I never made significant efforts to put in the necessary work. Now, if I’m not making the most of my time, I think, “What am I even doing?”

All of that is to say that I was really happy with this week of training, especially my speed workout and marathon goal pace run. It still feels strange to see mile splits that start with a 7, but I can feel it getting easier to run them. This week, Aaron was looking at one of my runs on Strava and said, “Whoa, you’re faster than you were before you got pregnant!”

Who would have thought? That in itself is its own reward.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy treadmill run at 9:14 average pace; Bikini Body Guide arms + abs workout.

I missed strength training last week and it felt great to add it back in this week. I’m going to aim to do it on Wednesdays as well. I just have to commit to it before I start my run so I can’t back out! On Monday, it helped that I shared my commitment on Instagram Stories because I felt like I had to update afterward to confirm that I followed through. If I can’t find the motivation anywhere else, I’ll just do for the ‘gram!

TUESDAY: 6.5-mile easy run at 9:02 average pace.

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I worked from home since we needed to have our garage door fixed (the spring broke!), so I wrapped up work at my normal time and ran before Aaron and Evie got home. I hit a nearby gravel trail and listened to a podcast featuring Tiffany James of Running for Carbs, who went from running a 4:57 marathon to a 3:27. She just ran her first Boston Marathon and PR’d with a 3:19! I wanted to learn all her speedy secrets. Turned out she just worked really hard. Go figure! I still found it (and her) inspiring. It’s episode #29 of The Rambling Runner podcast if you want to check It out.

WEDNESDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:07 average pace.

I love that Ali uploads the newest episode of her podcast each Wednesday night, even though it technically “comes out” on Thursday. It usually shows up in my feed right as I’m lacing up for my run! I listened to her interview with Sarah Sellers, the full-time nurse anesthetist who passed every other elite runner besides Desi Linden to finish second at the Boston Marathon. Worth a listen!

THURSDAY: 4 x 5-minute intervals (5.2 miles total) at 8:11 average pace.

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This workout isn’t on my Hal Higdon plan; it came from Hallie, who used it to train for this marathon last year with great success. It’s actually supposed to be 5 x 5-minute intervals with one minute of recovery in between, but I started with four since I didn’t know if I could hang in for five. It was hard, but I definitely could have done five and will do the full workout next time! I aimed for 7:30 or faster average pace for each interval and ended up with 7:13, 7:24, 7:30 and 7:18. Including the one minute of slow jogging between each interval, the middle three miles of this workout clocked in at 7:30, 7:36 and 7:39—the fastest consecutive miles I’ve ever run!

FRIDAY: Rest.

SATURDAY: 6-mile marathon goal pace run at 7:56 average pace.

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I ran this almost all on gravel travel and pushed my pace a bit because I always think I need to compensate for the slowing effect of the surface, but I guess that’s not an issue anymore. Anyway, the pace didn’t feel too hard—just a solid effort. I was happy! I cooled down with a wagon ride around the neighborhood with the fam. ☺

SUNDAY: 13-mile long run at 9:14 average pace.

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I ran 6.5 miles up the last stretch of the marathon course and then 6.5 back down. On the way up, I listened to the Mia Michaels episode of the Ali On the Run Show, which I had been skipping because it’s about dance, not running—but she is a hardworking, inspiring woman, and I found it motivating. On the way back, I listened to my favorite chill music to avoid bombing down the hill: Gregory Alan Isakov’s album The Weatherman. It was a gorgeous day, and with the sun filtering through the trees and making them glow, it felt almost like a religious experience—the church of the Sunday long run.

Total weekly mileage: 36.7

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Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 3: Keep Showing Up

First thing’s first: Des Linden won the Boston Marathon!!!

I, like everyone else, wanted so badly to see an American woman break the tape for the first time in 33 years, and I fully cried at my desk at work as I watched her turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston with no one else in sight behind her. Talk about running inspiration! GET. IT. GIRL!

I also want to give a shoutout to my friend Meg, who ran a PR of 3:21 despite the miserable rain and wind! Ah-maz-ing!

Back to week three of my training, which now seems very boring in comparison. ☺ I’m still plugging along, putting in mostly easy miles. Since I’m running slowly Monday through Wednesday, I find myself feeling paranoid that I won’t be able to run fast during my speed workout on Thursday—but I just have to relax and trust the process.

This week’s big lesson came in the form of a comment Hallie left on Instagram after I expressed doubt that the splits from my Thursday speed workout were fast enough. She said: “I was reminded the other day, by a very speedy lady, to not get hung up on the paces of one interval workout, but to focus on the consistency of showing up for each workout each week.”

Thinking back on my past marathon training, I don’t think I’ve ever done consistent speedwork, so the fact that I’m even doing it this time is a win. And Hallie’s speedy friend is totally right: consistency is the most important thing.

Funny that Des’ advice is pretty much the exact same thing:

MONDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:11 average pace.

The sun came out and it was downright warm, which felt like a nice preview of all the shorts-and-tank-top running I’ll be doing this summer. I even wore my sunglasses, which slipped down my sweaty nose every 10 seconds and made me realize I need a better solution for sunny-day training! Any suggestions for sport sunglasses or croakie-style attachments that don’t look silly?

I also intended to do BBG or lift weights, but since it was so nice out, I spent the rest of the evening weeding our backyard. It’s definitely not my favorite chore, but it was lovely to get even more fresh air.

TUESDAY: 6-mile easy run at 9:12 average pace.

Nothing notable about this run except that I’m loving my new Distance long-sleeve tees from Brooks! When it’s not warm enough for short sleeves but too warm for layers, this thin tee is the perfect in-between piece. I bought it in two colors because I love the style and fit so much. It’s not super loose or shapeless, not super form-fitting—just right. I wear size medium (as I do with all Brooks gear).

WEDNESDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:06 average pace

Another day, another Distance tee. Aaron got new wireless headphones and I promptly swiped them for this run. They’re less than $30 on Amazon, and they sounded pretty good and stayed in my ears! He decided I should have this pair and ordered another pair for himself. ☺ I’ve really enjoyed listening to podcasts on my easy runs to keep from getting bored. I think sheer boredom is a big part of what caused me to do my easy runs too fast in the past!

THURSDAY: 4 x 800m speed workout (5 miles total) at 8:21 average pace.

I finally did my first interval workout of this training cycle! I did an easy one-mile warmup, ran 4 x 800m between 7:15 and 7:24 pace with 400m of easy jogging in between, then finished with a one-mile cooldown.

Have you heard of Yasso 800s? The idea is that someone who can run a certain marathon time (say, 3 hours and 35 minutes) should be able to run 800m repeats in the equivalent number of minutes (3 minutes and 35 seconds). That’s what I aimed for, but I ended up running 3:38, 3:37, 3:37 and 3:42. Not too far off, especially this early in training. But I did feel a little down about it anyway, prompting my lackluster Instagram post about this workout and Hallie’s wise response. Going forward, I’ll try not to get too wrapped up in numbers, but it’s hard to do when you’re shooting for a big non-goal.

FRIDAY: Rest!

SATURDAY: 6-mile marathon goal pace run at 8:02 average pace.

Rain, rain, rain. I’m sick of running in it, you’re sick of hearing me complain about running in it. But the downpour gave me a lot of confidence on this run because I nailed my goal pace in less-than-ideal conditions. I didn’t think it was possible when I started, so I felt very accomplished when I finished. I also did the middle 4.5 miles of this run on a gravel trail (just like the marathon course), so that was another confidence-booster: I can run fast on gravel, you guys!

SUNDAY: 8-mile trail run at 14:44 average pace.

This was a stepback week with a shorter long run than the previous two weeks. Hallie is running a trail 50K this coming weekend, so she was down for a short and easy trail run with me! We did a fair amount of hiking, which left my glutes sore and my right piriformis tight (something I’ve struggled with in previous marathon training cycles), so I made sure to visit my chiropractor on Monday for an adjustment and some soft-tissue work. If you’re in Seattle, I’ve been seeing Dr. Devine for years and highly recommend him! When I’m training, I usually see him once a week for routine maintenance.

Total weekly mileage: 31

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 2: It Feels Easy Now

This was the kind of week I had hoped for in week one: straightforward, uneventful and—dare I say it?—easy.

Most of my running was at a relaxed pace; my speed workout felt really short; pushing my 30-pound kid in the running stroller one day felt pretty effortless; and my long run was mentally challenging due to the conditions, but definitely not the worst long run ever.

It feels easy now. I know it won’t feel that way for long, so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

I’m trying not to make the mistake of running too fast, too often, which is a mistake I’ve made plenty of times before. The only runs I’m trying to work really hard during are my Thursday speed workouts and Saturday marathon-pace runs (although they’re not every Saturday; this week was an off week). Every other run—especially my long runs—I’m going easy.

It seems like a counterintuitive method for getting faster, but I’ve read enough articles (like this one) to convince me it’s worth a shot. I’ve never tried it before, and I’ve never made huge leaps in my marathon finish times before, so why not? Plus, I’ve never run six days a week for a marathon training cycle before. I need to take it easy at the very least to avoid burning out partway through.

Not every run feels like a sweaty, breathless, confidence-boosting rush of endorphins—and that’s OK. I’m focusing on being patient, sticking to my strategy, and really going for it when it counts.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:06 average pace.

I used to take Mondays off running to recover from my Sunday long run, but now I do a short recovery run instead. I don’t think I could run fast on Mondays even if I tried. ☺ My friend Stephanie had five miles to do, so I joined her for the last three. Her first marathon is on April 21—so soon! I’m so excited for her. I also lifted weights and did some ab exercises.

TUESDAY: 5-mile easy run at 9:08 average pace.

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I haven’t run with headphones since I very first began running in 2010, but for some reason on this day, I didn’t think I could get through these slower miles without something to entertain me. I listened to my friend Ali’s podcast, The Ali on the Run Show, which I’ve become obsessed with. She interviews a great mix of pro runners, regular runners, celeb runners (like Andrea Barber, aka Kimmy Gibbler!), doctors, nutritionists and more. Ali is one of those people who can chat with anyone and make it fun and engaging, so listening to her show on the run is sort of like listening to a good conversation while running with friends. I ran on a gravel trail, and the show was a million times better to listen to than the crunch, crunch, crunch of my footsteps.

WEDNESDAY: 3-mile easy treadmill run at 9:15 average pace.

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When I was dealing with my foot pain last week, one of the things I thought might help was replacing my orthotic insoles. I was originally fitted for them at a running store in Colorado, where we went on vacation last summer, because I had packed my running shoes but not my insoles. Anyway, I ordered those same insoles from Amazon, and realized when they arrived that there was an option to heat them up in the oven and mold them to my feet! (Or you can just let them mold to your feet over time, but where’s the fun in that?) I followed the directions, then did a super-easy treadmill run in my freshly baked soles. They feel great so far, and this method was definitely cheaper than having custom insoles made at Road Runner Sports, which is what I used to do. That costs $80 now! Noooo thank you.

THURSDAY: 4-mile tempo run at 8:34 average pace.

It was super rainy, but also warm, so I wound up ditching my jacket midway through and just getting soaked during this run. That was no big deal, but maybe it was being too warm/messing with my jacket that made me feel a little off. I spent the 15 minutes of running at tempo pace (7:50ish) doubting that it was fast enough for my marathon non-goal. But I ran comfortably hard at a pace I felt I could sustain, like I’m supposed to, so I don’t know. I just never settled into a good enough rhythm to feel satisfied with this run.

FRIDAY: Rest.

Rest day is the best day! We got a babysitter and went out for a kid-free double date with Stephanie and her husband at The Attic. Pizza, BBQ ribs and beer, oh my.

SATURDAY: 5.3-mile run at 8:38 average pace.

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Aaron went for a bike ride first thing in the morning, and I decided to attempt a stroller run with Evie since we hadn’t done it in a while. (I say “attempt” because she’s almost two… you never know what will happen with a willful toddler.) 

Luckily, she was happy as a clam for most of the run since she had a snack cup full of Goldfish and plenty of people and animals to say “hi!” to along the way. It started pouring rain about halfway through, but again, it was warm rain. I’ll take that over cold rain any day! And we literally ran into Hallie as she was heading out for her run, so we enjoyed the last two miles with her. 

SUNDAY: 11-mile long trail run at 11:51 average pace.

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Speaking of pouring rain… think of the most intense, relentless rain you’ve ever seen. Now imagine that going all day long. Welcome to Sunday in the Pacific Northwest! 

I was soaked within the first five minutes of this run, and it was not warm rain. Once I got onto the actual trail in the woods, the trees helped a little to mitigate the downpour, but not as much as I’d hoped. I also climbed nearly 2,200 feet, so it got reallyyyyy cold as I neared my 5.5-miles turnaround point and my hands went numb. I think it’s time to invest in some lightweight, waterproof running gloves! I borrowed Hallie’s for the Orcas Island 25K and they were so necessary. 

With the cold, the rain and the steep trail wearing me down, I had an internal battle with myself over whether I should keep running up the trail to hit 5.5 or turn back early and make up the mileage on the flat gravel path to the parking lot. The latter would have been easier, but I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I chose to do that. During the Tiger Mountain Half, I won’t have the option to run some of the miles on a flatter trail. 

I’m glad I chose to push through my discomfort and keep going. It reminded me that, in addition to the physical rigor of running a race, at least half the battle—if not more—is totally mental.

Total weekly mileage: 31.3

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

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Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 1: Stumbling Out of the Gate

I’ve officially begun training for the Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon on July 28! This will be my sixth marathon, and my first since having a baby. I’m excited to work hard and see how much I can (hopefully) improve on my PR of 3:59 (2013 Chicago Marathon).

I was so excited to jump into my 18-week training plan this past week, and then things went… not quite as planned.

On the Sunday before day one of marathon training (Monday), I went on an 8-mile trail run wearing trail shoes I’d only run in once before. When I first put on these shoes, they felt a little small, but they were my normal size and felt OK while running, so I shrugged it off. After I completed my first run in them, I had blisters on each of my big toes (very unusual for me). I shrugged that off as being the consequence of having not been trail running in a long time. On this second run, I finished with blisters again, and also some pain on the top of my right foot that would haunt me throughout the week. The lesson here is: when your first instinct tells you that your shoes might be too small, they are probably too small. In other words, don’t ignore your instincts!

That being said, here’s how the week went down.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy treadmill run at 9:15 average pace.

It was nasty outside, so I happily hit the treadmill and watched some very fine programming: The Bachelor Winter Games. If that show is not made for the treadmill, I don’t know what is. My foot felt fine during this run.

TUESDAY: 5.6-mile easy run at 8:52 average pace.

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I misjudged my route and wound up running an extra 0.6 mile to get home, but the real problem was that my foot started hurting in the last few miles, which left me feeling very upset and confused about how my training was already going off the rails on day two. (I hadn’t yet made the connection between the pain and those too-small trail shoes.)

WEDNESDAY: Rest.

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This should have been an easy 3-mile run, but considering my foot hurt just walking around during the day, there was no way that was happening. Instead, I spent quality time on the couch with a frosty bag of peas on my foot.

THURSDAY: 3-mile easy run at 8:54 average pace.

During the day, my foot felt much better, so I was optimistic that I could do my planned speed workout Thursday night. However, I knew within the first half-mile that running far and/or fast was not meant to be. I clicked off three easy miles, not in a ton of pain, but just knowing I shouldn’t push it.

FRIDAY: 2.2-mile family bike ride at slower-than-slow pace.

Friday is my regularly planned rest day, so I was more than happy to take it in the hopes that more rest would help my foot would feel good enough to tackle my weekend runs. Evie’s daycare was closed, so Aaron and I took the day off and we had fun at a local farm, petting baby animals and hunting for Easter eggs. Later in the afternoon, the weather was lovely, so we hopped on our bikes and rode to a nearby park for some playground time. I ride my bike maybe once a year, so I’m ridiculously unsteady and slow. Aaron was dumbstruck by my lack of skills. The phrase, “It’s just like riding a bike!” doesn’t apply to me, apparently. ☺

SATURDAY: 10-mile long trail run at 12:05 average pace.

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Since I have a trail half-marathon in May, I’m planning to do all my long runs on trails until then. I switched back to my tried-and-true trail shoes for this run and my foot was just fine! It felt like a freakin’ miracle to go from three painful miles on Thursday to 10 pain-free miles on Saturday, but I don’t need to understand it… I’ll just take it. The weather was great and there were lots of other cyclists, hikers and runners on the trail. I appreciated that because if I’m trail running alone and don’t run into anyone for 10-15 minutes or so, I start to get a little freaked out about wild animals! We have bears and cougars out in these parts—not that I’ve ever seen either of those, but you never know.

SUNDAY: 5-mile goal pace run at 8:00 average pace.

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We had a crazy-busy Easter Sunday, leaving home at 8:30 a.m., making three different stops and returning around 6 p.m. I originally planned to run first thing in the morning, but I decided to give my feet a full 24+ hours of rest and attempt to run in the evening. I didn’t expect it to go very well, given that I spent the whole day chasing our almost-two-year-old, eating candy and drinking (mimosa at brunch, two glasses of wine with dinner). Miraculously, this run was awesome! Again, I don’t need to understand it! I aimed to run about 8:04 average pace and wound up going a little faster because (a) I didn’t feel like I was working hard enough to hit the pace I wanted, but I guess that pace just feels easier than I thought, and (b) it started hailing halfway through the run and I wanted to get home ASAP. And then it SNOWED a bit later that night. Nice April Fool’s joke, Mother Nature.

Total weekly mileage: 26.6

It was so nice to end the first week of training on a huge high after feeling frustrated and uncertain for most of it. In the end, I only missed one run, which should have little to no impact on my training in the grand scheme of things. I was upset to have my excitement and momentum interrupted, but the positive outcome of this minor setback is that I’ve realized how lucky I am when I’m healthy/not injured, and that whenever I feel like skipping a workout, I should remember to be grateful that I have the chance to run at all. A lot of people are dealing with injuries, illnesses, etc. that are far worse and don’t have that opportunity.

Now, on to week two. You can keep up with my training in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running. Thanks for following along!

Marathon Training Begins!

My 18-week training plan for the Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon starts today! I’m not training to qualify for the Boston Marathon. But I’m not not training to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

You might be like, “Wait, Devon—your marathon PR is 3:59. The qualifying time for your age group is 3:35. Why are you even talking about Boston?”

You see, my friend and frequent running buddy Hallie ran Jack & Jill last year as her first marathon-distance race (she had run farther in 50K trail races) and qualified for Boston in 3:34:38. That was her goal; she trained her butt off and achieved it. The course is also a gentle downhill the entire way, making it a particularly fast one that’s popular for runners chasing BQs.

Hallie thinks I can do it. I sort of think I can, if I put all my energy and focus into my training and happen to feel good on race day and execute a perfect race strategy.

Here’s the thing, though: I’ve run five marathons, and I’ve experienced high highs and low lows during those races. I mostly enjoyed highs when my primary goal for the race was to have fun and finish strong. I mostly suffered lows when my primary goal was to PR or hit a certain time on the clock. I ran a seven-minute PR at my second marathon and was so upset afterward because I didn’t hit the time I wanted. What is that about?!?

I know some people thrive on setting a big, scary goal, believing they can do it and putting every ounce of their energy toward it. I’m not the type of person who can do that and then relax enough to enjoy race day regardless of what happens. The pressure is too much. I’ve learned that I’d rather go in with a laid-back attitude and low expectations than pin all my hopes and dreams on a single goal and feel crushed when I don’t meet it.

So my strategy for this training cycle is a little weird, but I feel good about it. I will train with the goal of qualifying for Boston in mind, but my actual goal will just be to enjoy the race and finish strong. And to PR, too, because I think I can do that for sure. Running a strong Lake Sammamish Half and achieving a nine-minute PR convinced me of that.

I’ll do all the things someone would do to train for a Boston-qualifying time: use an advanced training plan that includes six days of running per week, regular speedwork and three 20-mile runs. I’ll aim to do my marathon-pace training runs at Boston-qualifying pace. I’ll stretch, foam roll and use NormaTec boots to help with recovery. I’ll eat well and eliminate alcohol for three weeks before the race. On race day, I’ll aim to run a negative split and finish under 3:35:00.

But I won’t be disappointed if I don’t. And I don’t want anyone else to be disappointed for me, either. It’s a far-out idea, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Let’s get started!

2018 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Recap

You know how you look forward to running a race so you can relax afterward, only to find yourself intoxicated by the running bug and itching to race again?

On the way home from the Orcas Island 25K, Hallie and I spent the car ride looking up half marathons to sign up for. We found the Lake Sammamish Half on March 10—a race I had run twice before (2013, 2014)—and signed up right away.

I’m at the point with my running where I don’t want to pay to run a race without really training for it and aiming for a PR. I only had about five weeks to train for this race, but I made the most of it with weekly speed training (alternating between tempo runs and intervals) and I felt myself get quite a bit faster as a result.

It also helped that Aaron and I turned our half-office/half-workout-room into a dedicated gym during this time, which included buying a used treadmill—so I really had no excuse to miss a run!

My main goal was to PR (sub-1:55), but I also thought I could run a 1:50 (8:15 average pace) or maybe even break 1:50. I vividly remember trying so hard to break 2:00 when I first started running, so this time goal seemed really scary! But the workouts I did based on my goal pace felt great and, barring total disaster, I was confident I could do it.

The night before the race, I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. It seemed like I woke up every 10 minutes or so to check my phone and make sure I didn’t sleep through it! And when I did sleep, I dreamt that I woke up late. It wasn’t a very restful night, to say the least.

Hallie picked me up at 5:30, and we picked up our friend Kelli on the way to Redmond Town Center, where the race began. We completely beat the traffic and arrived around 6:30, with plenty of time to pick up our packets, use the porta-potties multiple times with no lines and stay warm in the car until the 7:30 start. In years past, this race began at Marymoor Park, and the traffic getting into the park was a total nightmare. I once had to jump out of our car on the freeway offramp and run to the start! This was a big improvement.

We warmed up a bit (I probably didn’t even run a quarter mile; I’m not great at warming up), then ran to the start at 7:29, snapped a quick picture and took off.

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Hallie and Kelli are faster than me, so I had no plans to keep up with them. Sure enough, they took off in the first mile and I never saw them again. I originally planned to run the first few miles somewhere between 8:30-8:45 pace, keeping it nice and easy and then gradually speeding up through the end. Well, I ran nice and easy, but completed the first mile in 8:17.

My first instinct was to panic, thinking that I was running way too fast and would surely burn out at some point and completely ruin my race. But I took stock of my breathing and heart rate and realized that, no, I wasn’t running too hard at all, and yes, this did feel easy. Maybe I’m a little faster than I thought.

Mile 2: 8:09
Mile 3: 8:11

I noticed that my watch clocked one mile about 0.10 before I reached the mile marker, which I thought was odd because I really paid attention to running the tangents. The gap between my watch distance and the mile markers only grew each mile, until the disparity was about a third of a mile. This was bad news—it meant that if the mile markers didn’t correct by the end of the race, I’d be running closer to 13.5 miles than 13.1 miles and pick up the extra time it took to do it.

If I wanted to reach my goal, I had to run faster.

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Photo c/o Woodinville Bicycle/Westside Bicycle.

Also, around mile three, the 1:50 pace group passed me. I had started well ahead of them, so this meant I was falling behind 1:50 pace?!? I couldn’t believe this, based on the splits I was running. But something was wonky with the mile markers, so maybe they were running extra fast to make up the difference?

Rather than making a big effort to catch up and stay with the group, I resolved to keep them in my sights, and settled into a harder-but-comfortable pace. I ate a vanilla bean Gu at mile 5, and settled in behind a woman who was running strong. I felt like if I couldn’t keep up with the pace group, I’d be OK if I could at least keep up with her.

Mile 4: 8:05
Mile 5: 8:00
Mile 6: 8:09
Mile 7: 8:01

There were two or three miles where the paved path gave way to packed gravel, and it took more effort to keep up the same pace. I felt my energy flagging and doubted I could hold my pace in the low 8s until the end. Somewhere around here, I started hating running and wondering why I do it at all (haha!).

Mile 8: 8:08
Mile 9: 8:12

I took another vanilla bean Gu at mile 10. I complimented the woman I’d been following/running next to for a while on her strong running, and she said I was doing great, too. We both caught up to the 1:50 pace group, and the pacers confirmed they were running quite a bit faster than planned based on the wonky mile markers. I stuck with the pacers for a while, and the course finally turned back into pavement, so it felt easier to run a little faster. I felt good and there was no slowing down now.

Mile 10: 8:06
Mile 11: 8:02

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Photo c/o Woodinville Bicycle/Westside Bicycle.

I pulled ahead of the pacers at some point, but not by very much because I heard the man say to the group, “About a mile and a half to go. If you’re feeling good, now’s the time to go for it!”

So I went for it.

Mile 12: 7:56
Mile 13: 7:44

The last few miles took everything I had; I was sucking wind so hard. But that’s how you finish a race, right? And then the most glorious thing happened: my watch clocked mile 13 just as I hit the mile marker. The course had corrected itself, and I was steps away from a big PR.

Last 0.1: 7:29 pace

I crossed the line at exactly 1:46:00 (8:05 average pace), according to both my watch and the official results. There’s something oddly satisfying about my watch time and official time matching, plus it being a perfectly even number. Oh, and the nine-minute PR doesn’t hurt either! (Hallie and Kelli both ran 1:43 and PR’d, too!)

As I doubled over with my hands on my knees in the finish area, I kind of wanted to throw up and kind of wanted to cry with happiness. It had been years since I’d run a half-marathon, and since my last one, I’d had a non-running pregnancy, given birth and struggled to get back into fitness and running for about a year and a half. Now, here I was, faster than ever. I felt so freakin’ proud.

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When I was struggling to get back into a running routine, I came to accept the fact that I might not ever be as fit or as fast as I once was. It helped mentally, at the time.

But once I really dedicated myself to working out and eating well and started to see some progress, I realized I didn’t need to have that mentality anymore. Why couldn’t I get into as good of shape as I was before—if not better? Why couldn’t I run as fast as I could before—if not faster?

The things I’ve experienced and the ways I’ve changed since becoming a mom have only made me stronger and more equipped to do hard things. And I already had to start over from scratch with exercise and running, which is super hard in itself—why not keep going from there?

This race proved to me that nothing is out of reach if I really commit. I only seriously trained for this race for about five weeks; what could I do with 10? If I approach marathon training with the same dedication, what can I achieve in July at the Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon?

I’m thrilled by the possibilities, and I’ll give it all I’ve got.

RACE GEAR 

Half-zip top: Athleta (old)

Tank: Brooks Pick-Up Tank
Tights: Brooks Greenlight Tights
Shoes: Brooks Levitate (c/o)
Hydration vest: Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Hydration: nuun
Fuel: Vanilla bean Gu

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